Check out the 2022 Indie Cozy Mystery
Book of the Year Finals!

Behind the Writing of Death in Paris

Tell us about the background for the theme, what inspired it or why you wanted to write in this setting, or with play with these tropes?

This book, when I began writing it in December 2021, was the only Cozy mystery set in the 1970s. It appears to have inspired two series by other authors which touch upon the 1970s. But at the time, everyone – my mentors, my editors, my book trade coach – tried vigorously to dissuade me from setting my first Cozy series in the 1970s. “Write about the 1920s.” they said “That’s what readers want.” They also tried to dissuade me from writing about a schoolteacher sleuth. “Readers want to read about Ladies” they all said “Make your sleuth titled.” I am a great believer in giving readers what they want, and judging by the many compliments readers have been kind enough to pay me – including their generous Nomination of Death in Paris to the Finals of this award – some readers did get what they wanted from this book. But I make no apology for following my Muse. She came to me in December 2021, for the first time since 2006, and gave me Màiri entire and beautiful. I could not write down the outlines for the first 3 books in the series fast enough to keep up with the vision of the inner eye, my pencils kept going blunt as I slammed the words onto paper. Why 1970? Blame COVID. I wanted to take people back to a happier time; and the very late 60s and early 70s were the most prosperous period for the working classes that Britain has ever known. Flower Power, Brown is Beautiful, 100% employment (ah, how close Harold Wilson came to reaching that glorious goal!), abolition of class barriers, the equality of women, removing the stigma from homosexuality (which had until only slightly earlier been a criminal offense), at least an attempt at movement towards freedom from religious discrimination, recognition that not everyone is able-bodied and the needs of the disabled should be accommodated in daily life, Free Higher Education For All. And of course The Beatles. That’s what Britain stood for in 1970, and I happen to believe that those were ideals worth fighting for, goals worth straining every sinew to attain. So how could darling Màiri, the gift of my Muse, have lived in any other period? It had to be 1970. I began writing a delightful frothy story, a fairy tale version of life in Glasgow in 1970. And came back down to earth with a bang. In 1970 there was a little thing called The Troubles, an unacknowledged guerrilla war waged by the IRA, which was tearing Britain apart. The IRA were true Freedom Fighters, seeking to bring into the court of World Opinion the absolutely vicious and relentless religious persecution in Ireland (of course they chose the wrong way to do that). Bombs exploded daily in many cities, most often London. It was the beginning of the end for Clyde Shipbuilders, Glasgow’s economic life blood. The miners, God help them (for no-one else did) were fighting for their lives, literally, in appallingly unsafe working conditions. And so on. And so on. 1970 was in many ways a pretty awful year. Did I want to present a fake-utopia? No. Did I want to write a gritty crime story, exposing the many horrors of the period? No. People had been worn down by COVID; they needed to laugh. I wanted to make them laugh. So I wrote a story of which Discovery said “manages to be dark and light-hearted at the same time” of which Writers Digest said “a unique voice; an intense ride yet funny, the humor so appropriate”. A story which entertains, but still tells it like it is.

Are any of your characters based on real people you know?

Every character I have ever written is based to some extent on my personal perception of the virtues and failings of “someone I know”. Sometimes a real person, sometimes a character in someone else’s book or movie. I seriously doubt, however, that the spark which ignites the creation of any of my characters leads to an outcome in which those quasi-inspirations carry the day. Shall we find out? Readers, can you see another literary character in Màiri? Does anything Màiri does bring to mind a character so famous that she’s a household word? A character whom almost everyone – even those who do not read – has heard of? Or do Màiri’s difficulties in Paris remind you of the difficulties of any other Cozy sleuth? I promise – if you correctly name either fictious person I’ll acknowledge it. But I’ll be surprised if you do. And Màiri is also based, of course, on dozens of Glaswegian women whom I’ve been privileged to call my friends.

Which of the side characters would you love to explore more, or turn into a main character in another series?

That’s an interesting question, because almost from the beginning, there was a side character whom I wanted to get to know better. A very popular character. Readers also wanted to get to know him much better. Many readers came straight out and asked me to give Major Peverel his own series. And I have done so. The first book in my new They Call Him Gimlet series will be released, Deo Volente, in time for you to enjoy the story lying on a beach this summer.

Indie Author: Yes
Kindle Unlimited: Yes
Publication Date: 03/30/2022

Historical Mysteries

Page Count: 251 Pages

Get is FREE February 5 – 7 2023


Màiri Maguire teaches in top schools all over the world, but on days like today she wishes she had never left Glasgow!

8:10 a.m. on 15th August 1970. They’ve been in Paris only 12 hours. Lianna, Màiri’s closest friend, is locked up in jail, charged with murder. Màiri is being hunted by murderous criminals. She never dreamt that travelling outside Scotland would be so dangerous. Will Màiri ever again see her comfy home in Merrylea, her loving sisters Morag and Katriona, her schoolboy nephew Niall?

Major Ellis Peverel seldom leaves Màiri’s side. Respected by the Paris police, shrouded in secrets, who is this man? Is he a true friend to Màiri, or does he have an agenda of his own?

Who really killed the corrupt taxman for whose death Lianna has been framed? Màiri has only 6 days to find the murderer. Can she free Lianna in time? Or must she choose between her friend’s freedom and her own livelihood… if she’s still alive.

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